Drawings and text created for
 publication in the
International Parti Poodle Gazette
November 2006 Issue

“What is it, Pee-kell?” Although I have little knowledge of the language, I always feel compelled to use French when speaking to my parti-colored Standard Poodle Sydney . . . ergo, my Frenchesque pronunciation of Pickle, one of her nicknames.

She had come rushing into the kitchen with an expectant air. When she saw she had my attention, she led me into the next room where her older brother Jyah was lying on the floor nibbling on a toy. Eagerly looking from me to the toy, Sydney sidled ever closer, positioning herself within a few feet of Jyah.

Laughingly, I said, “It's not going to work, my little Pee-jon (pigeon); I'm not going to help you take that toy away from Jyah.”

Upon hearing his name, Jyah looked up, “What's up, Mom?”

That was all the opening Sydney needed. She dove in and snatched the toy from between Jyah's paws before he could blink. Her ploy to enlist my support had, in her mind, worked brilliantly. I'm sure she had sweetly asked Jyah for the toy, and when that failed, she manipulated me into helping her get it.

Sydney is all girl - graduated at the top of her class in feminine wiles and is well-practiced in her art. She uses charm to obtain what she wants, and if that doesn't succeed, she skillfully tries to manipulate a situation to her own advantage. Although I'm on to her game, it's something I find amusing to watch . . . and sometimes to play along with. My husband Glenn, however, is oblivious to Sydney's ploys. He travels a great deal, and when he's home, Sydney hangs on his every word, follows wherever he goes, crawls onto his lap to snuggle, and gazes at him with soulful eyes.

Although he studied French for a year in college, Glenn does not speak or understand the language; however, like me, he has the urge to address Sydney in French. Not long ago, he arrived home from a trip to Montreal, and Sydney, as usual, was beguiling him with her girlish charm. Gathering her onto his lap, Glenn said, "Bonjour, mon petit Bonbon." Then, reacting to her response, he captioned for her, "Oh, Daddy, I do so love it when you speak French!"

I swallowed a snicker. Knowing Sydney to be an adorable manipulator, my pet names for her, although equally endearing, are less flattering than her daddy's. Whereas his sobriquets such as “mon petit Bijou” (my little jewel) are dainty and precious, mine are silly names that better fit her wily ways.

Sydney's creativity in getting what she wants seems boundless, whether she's working her spell on Glenn or wheedling something away from Jyah, and it's always entertaining to watch. She virtuously performs these acts as if she truly believes she is entitled to whatever she is seeking.

I must admit that even I am occasionally taken-in by Sydney's charm. Recently, she was lying on the floor next to my easy chair where I sat reading. She raised her head to gaze at me for a moment, then arose and came to lay her chin on my lap, looking up at me through long, sweeping lashes. “What is it mon Chee-ken (chicken)?” She turned, asking me to follow. “Do you have to go outside?” I got up and toddled into the kitchen to open the back door. But, when I got there, Sydney was not with me. As I walked back into the den, I found her curled up with angelic innocence in my easy chair. The coquette had pulled off another coup - and I had not even seen it coming.


By Charlene Dunlap